Whenever you are in business for yourself, questions typically arise. From how to design your website for maximum conversion to how to fund your latest venture and everything in between, sometimes it is nice to just be able to reach out to others in the field and get their opinion about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. And what better place to do that than in a forum filled to the brim with other small business owners just like you?
By using a forum as your sounding board, question pad, or idea generator, you can network and connect with people in similar situations, drawing on their experiences and knowledge to help you as you work to effectively and efficiently run and grow your small business. The key to making these forums a benefit versus a time-suck is joining only the ones that are actually helpful and bypassing the ones that don’t offer any real advantages.
With that thought in mind, here my top three picks for small business forums that actually serve the purpose for which they were designed:
With almost 92,000 members from various regions of the world, Small Business Ideas Forum is my number one go-to site for any number of questions I may have related to operating and growing my small business. Their main topic categories include online marketing, offline marketing, revenue and expense related topics, inspiration and ideas, general issues, and small business computing. They also offer a number of “just for fun” forums where you can go to chat with other small business owners about non work-related topics such as movies, books, sports, and pets.
And if you want to follow a particular forum or thread on this particular site, it’s pretty simple to do as you can add it to your “My Threads” page. That way you will have access to the exact type of information that you want both quickly and easily.
The only negative I have to say about this site is that when you pull up a thread, you have to go through all of the older posts before reaching the latest and most current information. You can switch your settings and choose to pull up the newest posts first, but then you don’t know the original question until you scroll back to the beginning.
If you’re looking for advice specifically about electronics for your business, CNET’s small business forum is the place to go. While their threads do cover other areas as well, their most popular forums involve information about cell phones, PC software, Windows applications, and system security. They even offer forums based solely on individual manufacturers, such as Acer, AVG, Dell, HP, Panasonic, and Sony if you want to check out a particular brand.
A strong positive with this forum is that it doesn’t allow anyone to post advertisements for their business. Thus, you can go through the threads to find the information you seek without worrying about whether it is a “real” post or someone just trying to sell you something. They also have a section titled “Hot Discussions” which highlights some of the most active discussions on the site at that particular time.
With just over 18,000 members, you have access to a wide variety of small business owners in small-business.forum.net, but it is in a much smaller group than Small Business Ideas Forum if you prefer this type of setting. They also separate their threads into easy to understand categories, such as starting or managing your business, finances, accounting and taxes, and legal and HR. They even have several threads relative to marketing and web design and management if this is where your questions lie.
All three of these forums can help you get answers to most any small business question that you can think of, so you may want to join one or all of them today.